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[phono-tx] Re: schwa vs. karet in transcription of speech samples


Hi Sari-

In some accents, karet is much lower than schwa, so it's easier to hear the difference.
The example you give of mallet versus ketchup illustrates the need to be a little more specific in the stressed versus unstressed explanation. Karet is also used in syllables with secondary stress (as the second syllable of ketchup but not of mallet).

Other examples include 'upload' versus 'allowed' and 'unhappy' versus 'ahead'; where the first of each pair has karet in the secondary stressed initial syllable, whereas the second of each pair has schwa in the fully unstressed initial syllable.

This is one of the reasons why we still retain the two symbols: there are some word pairs which differ virtually only in the unstressed versus secondary stressed nature of the central vowel - so you either have to distinguish schwa and karet or write secondary stress marks. One close example is 'upend' versus 'append' - though of course I can't at the moment think of better ones - I'm sure someone will post some to the list!!

Martin J. Ball, PhD, FRSA, FRCSLT
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

--- In, nofclbriath@... wrote:
> ... I learned initially that the karet is used to represent the sound that occurs in 'up' in Canadian English. Later, I learned that the karet is only used in stressed syllables, with the schwa being used in its place in unstressed syllables. But this seems to lead to difficulties with accurately showing a contrast between the two sounds. My understanding is that the schwa represents the vowel in the second syllable of the word 'mallet' and this sound is different to me than the vowel in the second syllable of 'ketchup',  but if a schwa has to be used in unstressed syllables, than both words would look like they have the same vowel in their second syllable.' ...

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